Workers’ Comp, ADA, FMLA and Leave of Absence

Many organizations generally have some type of Human Resources and Risk Management programs operating independently. The challenge is integrating the two programs, as needed, to maintain compliance on leave of absence laws.

 

Leave of absence laws continue to evolve nationally. The federal ADA and FMLA laws have been in place for many years. Several states, in particular California and New York, have implemented their own leave of absence laws that are more expansive than the federal laws. 

 

Another way leave of absence laws are evolving is to provide for mandatory leave for a wider variety of issues. Some of these laws now require mandatory leave for more common issues, of which may include caring for a family member.

 

The overlap between FMLA, ADA, and other leave of absence laws is a challenge because they have different time frames, duration, and rules around eligibility. For workers’ compensation claims, it is important to run the FMLA leave concurrent with workers’ comp disability. If not, the company risks the employee taking additional leave under FMLA, once he/she is released to work for the workers’ compensation injury.

 

ADA requirements for job accommodations also apply to workers’ compensation claims. This issue has tripped up many employers leading to litigation and penalties. If an employee is released to any form of work, ADA requires the employer to try and accommodate those restrictions. Many employers who take a “no light duty” approach to their workers’ compensation program could possibly be in violation of ADA for not offering a reasonable accommodation. Simply continuing TTD benefits when a person is released to modified work is not in compliance with ADA. The employer is required to perform the interactive process and show that a reasonable effort was made to accomodate.

 

A great resource on job accommodation rules is the Job Accommodation Network (askjan.org)